Weekly Mulch: ‘Global Weirding’ and Climate Skeptics’ Slushy Logic

By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Climate skeptics found plenty of reasons to dig out their dreary critiques this week, between the continuing controversy over erroneous reports from the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and the record-breaking snowfall on the East Coast. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and his family built an igloo which Inhofe then dubbed “Al Gore’s house” in the streets of Washington, D.C. The Virginia GOP ran ads attacking the state’s Democratic representatives for their support of cap-and-trade and urged voters to “tell them how much global warming you get this weekend.” And skeptics across the world claimed that the smaller mistakes in IPCC reports undermined the organization’s broad conclusions on climate change science.

Let’s plow through this slushy thinking before it piles up too high.

Snow still happens in a warming world

In the winter, it snows, and one snowstorm does not overthrow all of climate science. “Perhaps it’s time for a refresher,” wrote Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones. “’Weather’ and ‘climate’ are not the same thing. Weather is what happened yesterday or may happen tomorrow; climate patterns occur over decades.”

“We can absolutely expect climate change to bring blizzards in places that don’t normally see a lot of blizzards, like Washington, D.C.,” chimes in Jonathan Hiskes at Grist. “Climatologists expect just this sort of ‘global weirding’: less predictable, more extreme, more damaging.”

Cold temperatures, even record lows, do not contradict the extensive body of evidence that global temperatures are rising. As Hiskes points out, erratic weather patterns support climate change theories, and the coming seasons will feature more newsworthy weather events. Chalk up the snowfall that shut down the federal government for almost a week as a bad sign, akin to harsh storms like Hurricane Katrina.

Climate science stands despite IPCC errors…

The IPCC messed up. The international organization is meant to gather and review the body of climate change science and produce definitive reports on that field. But in past reports, the organization included a few facts unsupported by real scientific research. Mother Jones’ Sheppard runs down these mistakes: the IPCC cannot back up its claims about the rising sea-level in Holland, crop failure in Africa, and the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

The bottom line, though, is that these errors do not affect the reports’ main conclusions. As Sheppard explains, “The controversies over the IPCC’s data haven’t challenged the fundamental agreement among the vast majority of scientific bodies that climate change is happening and caused in large part by human activity.”

…but that does not excuse the IPCC’s behavior

The IPCC cannot use that broad consensus as a defense, however. The organization needs to maintain both an impeccable reputation as a scientific body and its independence from political pressures. At The Nation, Maria Margaronis argues that in the climate arena, science and politics have been wedged too closely together.

“On a subject as politicized as this, it’s not surprising that scientists have been found guilty of hoarding data, smoothing a graph or two, shutting each other’s work out of peer-reviewed journals,” she writes. “The same goes on in far less controversial fields, where what’s at stake is only money and careers. … Every research paper and data set produced by climate scientists or cited by the IPCC is now fair game for the fine-toothed comb, whether it’s wielded honestly or with malicious intent. Nit-picking takes the place of conversation.”

Margaronis suggests that scientists admit to uncertainties and open up their data, while the rest of us stop looking to them as unimpeachable oracles on climate change. But as long as skeptics jump on a researcher’s every doubt as a refutation of all climate science, that’s not likely to happen.

Brace for impact

Negative attitudes about the IPCC and the snow are not idle threats to climate reform. As Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly, “It seems mind-numbing, but Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) said snowfall in D.C. has had an effect on policymakers’ attitudes.”

As cheap as they are, stunts like Inhofe’s seem to dampen lawmakers’ political will to pass real climate change legislation. Apparently, the Senate, already tip-toeing away from the cap-and-trade provisions passed in the House, can’t talk about global warming when there’s snow on the ground.

Foot-dragging like this costs the United States money and credibility. Administration officials are already downplaying expectations for the next international conference on climate change, to be held next winter in Mexico. And if the Senate gives up on a comprehensive climate bill and passes a weaker provision, the country will ultimately pay the price in higher deficits.

At Grist, David Roberts declares, “Good climate policy is responsible fiscal policy.” His evidence? Reports from the Congressional Budget Office. The Senate’s comprehensive climate legislation (known as the Kerry-Boxer bill) knocks $21 billion a year off the deficit, according to the CBO. The watered-down alternative increases the deficit by $13 billion a year.

Encounters with the arch-skeptic

Citing snowfall as an argument against global warming—and against passing climate change legislation!—is not the only half-baked idea climate skeptics throw around. As Joshua Frank notes for AlterNet, “There are usually a range of issues these skeptics raise in an attempt to cast doubt on climate change evidence.” Frank offers a primer of responses to common complaints—i.e. humans don’t contribute to global warming, that carbon emissions aren’t to blame, either, that climate science cannot accurately measure global warming.

Keep this resources handy. It only takes one event, like this week’s snow storm, for those misguided arguments to surface.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Six Upcoming Conferences on Faith and the Environment

I am aware of six conferences on faith, environmental stewardship, and climate change between now and May. If you are anywhere near Omaha, NE; Chicago, IL; New Haven, CT; Spokane, WA; Fayetville, AR; or the Adirondack Mountains and have any interest in either religion or new ways to discuss environmentalism, please consider attending the event near you. The first two are above the fold. The rest, in chronological order, are below the fold, including the one I think looks the most exciting. If you are aware of any others, please be sure to let me know!

February 27, Omaha, NE: Sustainable Faith: An Interfaith Forum on Climate Change and Clean Energy

Repower America and the College of St. Mary will co-host this week’s event on Saturday from 1-5pm. Discussion topics will include eco-justice, eco-spirituality, how faith communities can get involved in the push for clean energy legislation, and what churches can do to be more energy efficient. We will hear from prominent local clergypersons, watch the documentary “Clean Coal,” and learn what congregations around the state are already doing to fight climate change and be better environmental stewards.

“These religious leaders and teachers are forming mutual ministries to address climate challenge,” said the Rev. Dr. Ken Moore, who will speak at the forum. “They recognize that the effects of climate change are devastating – especially on the vulnerable, poor societies. Transitioning to clean, renewable energy would help us preserve God’s green earth, while benefiting the U.S. economy and American families.” Moore is regional minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nebraska and the board chair of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light. Other speakers will include the Jesuit director of Creighton University’s campus ministry, the director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries ELCA-NE, and an Episcopal deacon and philosophy professor.

Admission is free, and RSVPs are requested but not required. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail sustainablefaith@yahoo.com or visit the event’s Facebook page. (Disclosure: I am organizing this forum on behalf of Repower America.)

March 18-19, Chicago, IL: Shared Earth: Interfaith Conference on the Environment

This event will be held at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is sponsored by A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME). The two day conference will include four speakers and five workshops.

Speakers will include Claremont School of Theology Professor Philip Clayton, Shomrei Adamah founder Ellen Bernstein, Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Professor Saleem H. Ali, and Chicago Zen Center director Sevan Ross. Workshops will include “Organizing Environmental Interfaith Action Projects,” “Creating Faith in Place,” “The Care and Redemption of God’s Good Earth: Perspectives from Christian Theology,” “Caring for Mother Earth: A Native American Perspective,” and “Living Green at the Mosque Foundation.”

Admission is free but pre-registration is requested. For more information, visit the CCME’s website.

There's more...

Six Upcoming Conferences on Faith and the Environment

I am aware of six conferences on faith, environmental stewardship, and climate change between now and May. If you are anywhere near Omaha, NE; Chicago, IL; New Haven, CT; Spokane, WA; Fayetville, AR; or the Adirondack Mountains and have any interest in either religion or new ways to discuss environmentalism, please consider attending the event near you. The first two are above the fold. The rest, in chronological order, are below the fold, including the one I think looks the most exciting. If you are aware of any others, please be sure to let me know!

February 27, Omaha, NE: Sustainable Faith: An Interfaith Forum on Climate Change and Clean Energy

Repower America and the College of St. Mary will co-host this week’s event on Saturday from 1-5pm. Discussion topics will include eco-justice, eco-spirituality, how faith communities can get involved in the push for clean energy legislation, and what churches can do to be more energy efficient. We will hear from prominent local clergypersons, watch the documentary “Clean Coal,” and learn what congregations around the state are already doing to fight climate change and be better environmental stewards.

“These religious leaders and teachers are forming mutual ministries to address climate challenge,” said the Rev. Dr. Ken Moore, who will speak at the forum. “They recognize that the effects of climate change are devastating – especially on the vulnerable, poor societies. Transitioning to clean, renewable energy would help us preserve God’s green earth, while benefiting the U.S. economy and American families.” Moore is regional minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nebraska and the board chair of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light. Other speakers will include the Jesuit director of Creighton University’s campus ministry, the director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries ELCA-NE, and an Episcopal deacon and philosophy professor.

Admission is free, and RSVPs are requested but not required. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail sustainablefaith@yahoo.com or visit the event’s Facebook page. (Disclosure: I am organizing this forum on behalf of Repower America.)

March 18-19, Chicago, IL: Shared Earth: Interfaith Conference on the Environment

This event will be held at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is sponsored by A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME). The two day conference will include four speakers and five workshops.

Speakers will include Claremont School of Theology Professor Philip Clayton, Shomrei Adamah founder Ellen Bernstein, Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Professor Saleem H. Ali, and Chicago Zen Center director Sevan Ross. Workshops will include “Organizing Environmental Interfaith Action Projects,” “Creating Faith in Place,” “The Care and Redemption of God’s Good Earth: Perspectives from Christian Theology,” “Caring for Mother Earth: A Native American Perspective,” and “Living Green at the Mosque Foundation.”

Admission is free but pre-registration is requested. For more information, visit the CCME’s website.

There's more...

Six Upcoming Conferences on Faith and the Environment

I am aware of six conferences on faith, environmental stewardship, and climate change between now and May. If you are anywhere near Omaha, NE; Chicago, IL; New Haven, CT; Spokane, WA; Fayetville, AR; or the Adirondack Mountains and have any interest in either religion or new ways to discuss environmentalism, please consider attending the event near you. The first two are above the fold. The rest, in chronological order, are below the fold, including the one I think looks the most exciting. If you are aware of any others, please be sure to let me know!

February 27, Omaha, NE: Sustainable Faith: An Interfaith Forum on Climate Change and Clean Energy

Repower America and the College of St. Mary will co-host this week’s event on Saturday from 1-5pm. Discussion topics will include eco-justice, eco-spirituality, how faith communities can get involved in the push for clean energy legislation, and what churches can do to be more energy efficient. We will hear from prominent local clergypersons, watch the documentary “Clean Coal,” and learn what congregations around the state are already doing to fight climate change and be better environmental stewards.

“These religious leaders and teachers are forming mutual ministries to address climate challenge,” said the Rev. Dr. Ken Moore, who will speak at the forum. “They recognize that the effects of climate change are devastating – especially on the vulnerable, poor societies. Transitioning to clean, renewable energy would help us preserve God’s green earth, while benefiting the U.S. economy and American families.” Moore is regional minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nebraska and the board chair of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light. Other speakers will include the Jesuit director of Creighton University’s campus ministry, the director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries ELCA-NE, and an Episcopal deacon and philosophy professor.

Admission is free, and RSVPs are requested but not required. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail sustainablefaith@yahoo.com or visit the event’s Facebook page. (Disclosure: I am organizing this forum on behalf of Repower America.)

March 18-19, Chicago, IL: Shared Earth: Interfaith Conference on the Environment

This event will be held at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is sponsored by A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME). The two day conference will include four speakers and five workshops.

Speakers will include Claremont School of Theology Professor Philip Clayton, Shomrei Adamah founder Ellen Bernstein, Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Professor Saleem H. Ali, and Chicago Zen Center director Sevan Ross. Workshops will include “Organizing Environmental Interfaith Action Projects,” “Creating Faith in Place,” “The Care and Redemption of God’s Good Earth: Perspectives from Christian Theology,” “Caring for Mother Earth: A Native American Perspective,” and “Living Green at the Mosque Foundation.”

Admission is free but pre-registration is requested. For more information, visit the CCME’s website.

There's more...

Six Upcoming Conferences on Faith and the Environment

I am aware of six conferences on faith, environmental stewardship, and climate change between now and May. If you are anywhere near Omaha, NE; Chicago, IL; New Haven, CT; Spokane, WA; Fayetville, AR; or the Adirondack Mountains and have any interest in either religion or new ways to discuss environmentalism, please consider attending the event near you. The first two are above the fold. The rest, in chronological order, are below the fold, including the one I think looks the most exciting. If you are aware of any others, please be sure to let me know!

February 27, Omaha, NE: Sustainable Faith: An Interfaith Forum on Climate Change and Clean Energy

Repower America and the College of St. Mary will co-host this week’s event on Saturday from 1-5pm. Discussion topics will include eco-justice, eco-spirituality, how faith communities can get involved in the push for clean energy legislation, and what churches can do to be more energy efficient. We will hear from prominent local clergypersons, watch the documentary “Clean Coal,” and learn what congregations around the state are already doing to fight climate change and be better environmental stewards.

“These religious leaders and teachers are forming mutual ministries to address climate challenge,” said the Rev. Dr. Ken Moore, who will speak at the forum. “They recognize that the effects of climate change are devastating – especially on the vulnerable, poor societies. Transitioning to clean, renewable energy would help us preserve God’s green earth, while benefiting the U.S. economy and American families.” Moore is regional minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nebraska and the board chair of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light. Other speakers will include the Jesuit director of Creighton University’s campus ministry, the director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries ELCA-NE, and an Episcopal deacon and philosophy professor.

Admission is free, and RSVPs are requested but not required. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail sustainablefaith@yahoo.com or visit the event’s Facebook page. (Disclosure: I am organizing this forum on behalf of Repower America.)

March 18-19, Chicago, IL: Shared Earth: Interfaith Conference on the Environment

This event will be held at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is sponsored by A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME). The two day conference will include four speakers and five workshops.

Speakers will include Claremont School of Theology Professor Philip Clayton, Shomrei Adamah founder Ellen Bernstein, Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Professor Saleem H. Ali, and Chicago Zen Center director Sevan Ross. Workshops will include “Organizing Environmental Interfaith Action Projects,” “Creating Faith in Place,” “The Care and Redemption of God’s Good Earth: Perspectives from Christian Theology,” “Caring for Mother Earth: A Native American Perspective,” and “Living Green at the Mosque Foundation.”

Admission is free but pre-registration is requested. For more information, visit the CCME’s website.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads